Being Mortal: Medical Concerns

This is the third post in a series of seven posts based on the book Being Mortal, by Atul Gawande. This book has infinite pastoral implications for ministers working with the aged as well as ministers working with the terminally ill.

This a good read for anyone who will die one day, and wants to die well. I recommend reading it and engaging in important conversations with your loved ones around issues of life, death, and legacy.

Here are some questions I developed to help guide a conversation about medical concerns you or your loved one may have.

How afraid are you of falling, on a scale from 1 to 10; one being not at all and 10 being debilitating-ly petrified on a daily basis?

What is that fear about? (For example, is it about the experience of falling: the shock, the disorientation? Is it about the pain? The possibility of breaking a bone or damaging a tendon or muscle? is it about the possibility that one fall could change your life forever?)

Talk to me about your fears of falling.

Have you ever participated in a falls prevention course? If so, how was it? If not, is this something you would be interested in?

How likely do you think you would be to commit to a falls prevention class, if it were offered somewhere nearby and you were guaranteed a way to get there?

Is there value in things like falls prevention courses and nutritional education for older adults?

Have you made a plan for hoe much treatment you’d like to pursue in the face of a critical illness?

Have you discussed this plan with your family?

Do you have advance directives?

Is your family aware of your wishes? If this is not a conversation you have had with your family, is this something you think you could talk with your family about?

How does it feel to think about having that conversation with your family?

Do you know the signs of depression?

How comfortable are you in your ability to recognize the signs of depression in yourself or someone else?

Is this something you think about?

If yes, is that helpful; if no, do you feel interested in knowing more about how to recognize depression in yourself or someone else and what to do/ how to be supportive?

Happy conversing. And, hug a caregiver this month if you know one! November is National Caregiver’s Month.






One Comment

  1. Greg Smith

    I’ve enjoyed reading your reflections on Gawande. Excellent pastoral questions. “This a good read for anyone who will die one day…” I love that comment! Thanks for giving me a smile after a long day slogging through DMin writing. Happy Thanksgiving! Tell your family hi from me! Greg

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